What Age Can a Child Get a Sinus Infection?

Kids can come down with a lot of colds and infections, especially during the school year. With so many illnesses going around, it is tough to know what is what. Is it COVID? RSV? The flu? A common cold?

One thing’s for sure — you won’t have to worry about your child getting a sinus infection until they are a bit older. Keep reading to find out when these infections can show up and how to treat them when they do.

What is a Sinus Infection?

The sinuses that run throughout the face, such as the forehead, nose, and cheeks are typically filled with air. However, when they begin to get inflamed and fill up with fluid they can cause pain, a stuffy or runny nose, and sometimes even a fever.

Often referred to as sinusitis, sinus infections can result from the common cold, bacterial or viral infections, or even due to allergies.

Acute sinus infections are known to stick around but often dissipate in less than a month. This is what you will usually find when the sinuses get infected with a cold. Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, is usually caused by bacteria and can last more than 3 months.

When Can Kids Get a Sinus Infection?

Sinus infections will not start impacting children until they reach their early teen years.

As kids grow and develop, so do their sinuses. Those that are found in the forehead and behind the eyes do not begin forming until they reach at least seven years of age. From there, it takes several more years for them to be susceptible to infection.

Your child’s sinuses won’t be fully developed until they reach about 20 years of age.

So, while young kids may have infections that impact their nose and ears, they won’t be at risk of sinusitis until they are a bit older.

Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

While sinus infections can impact each individual differently, below are a few of the most common symptoms.

  • Pain and pressure felt on the face — primarily around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead.
  • Thick mucus from the nose, usually yellow or greenish. This may appear as a runny nose or show up as a post-nasal drip in the back of the throat. It may also lead to a stuffy nose, making it tough to breathe.
  • Headaches
  • Ear pain
  • Teeth pain or soreness
  • Inability to smell
  • Cough
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue

Sometimes, though not always, a sinus infection can come with a fever, too.

Treating a Sinus Infection

Sinus infections can often clear up on their own with time, thanks to the body’s defenses. If your kid needs a little extra help to find relief, here is what you can do.

  • Warm compresses on the face or in areas where the pressure is great can help.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can provide relief. Just be sure to double-check the dosage and speak to your pediatrician if you have any questions before giving the medication
  • Saline sprays can always help dry up the airways.
  • Breathing in steam can also comfort nasal passageways.

If the sinus symptoms persist for more than a week, seem to get worse, or come with a fever  — it is a good idea to make an appointment with your pediatrician.

Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group is a highly experienced team of pediatricians serving patients from birth through college. They have been an established leader in pediatrics for decades in the Haddon Heights and Mullica Hill areas of New Jersey.